A cycling trip to the Picos de Europa

Some pictures from a cycle touring trip to the Picos de Europa mountains in Northern Spain. A magical six days riding from the coast to the mountains and back, passing through Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León.

A big thank you to my friend and fellow tourer Gavin for plotting the route and coming up with the idea in the first place. He has written some more about our trip here:
https://themanfromicon.wordpress.com/tag/picos-de-europa/

The routes we took over the six days:
Day 1 – https://www.strava.com/activities/556629300
Day 2 – https://www.strava.com/activities/557503053
Day 3 – https://www.strava.com/activities/558278867
Day 4 – https://www.strava.com/activities/559328389
Day 5 – https://www.strava.com/activities/560174460
Day 6 – https://www.strava.com/activities/561002408

 

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Unravelling

Riding in the dark towards a waiting ferry, ignoring the storm clouds, the vagueness of the plan, the not-quite-sure-I’ve-got-everything feeling. The signs were there early on.

The overnight ferry churns across the channel. 4am arrives. I ride in circles bleary-eyed looking for the Avenue Vert. Groups of cyclists from the ferry gather with the same idea. I bump into my friend Jim and we ride some more circles together before finding the route to Paris.

Jim and I go our separate ways a few miles down the road and the slow unravelling of the plan begins. Puncture number 1 followed by puncture number 2. I ride with different groups of riders in between more punctures. I ride alone for a while with nothing but punctures for company. The unravelling quickens.

Some getting lost, some hiding from the rain and then another puncture. I find myself sitting on a muddy farm track miles from the nearest town. I watch the rain darken the ground at my feet and stare at the last remaining puncture repair patch. And then…I give up on the plan.

I’m not sure why, but I find myself completely unbothered about the failure of the plan. It is just a bike ride, it doesn’t really matter.

Somehow I make it back to the last town, fix the bike and ponder the world with the strongest, blackest coffee in Northern France. The rain passes and I watch the world go by from the café window.

I look at the map. A new plan forms. I leave the café and get on the bike in the first sunshine of the day. I begin a new ride without a care in the world. It turns out to be the best ride I’ve had in years.

https://www.strava.com/activities/353851336

White chalk hills UCX

100km on a cross bike, with friends. About as near as you can get to a perfect ride.

https://www.strava.com/activities/458089186

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Loads of great pics and a nice read from @themanfromicon :
https://themanfromicon.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/white-chalk-hills-ultracross-2015/

Another good one by @jimdesign:
http://moontin.cc/white-chalk-hills-ucx-2015/

And many thanks to @velomorpha for organising a great ride, a day to remember:
http://velomorpha.cc/ucx-004/

 

Doorstep Epic

The 100 Greatest Climbs are a series of books by Simon Warren that list some well known (and some lesser known) climbs in Britain. Some of the climbs have a bit of history like York’s Hill (used in the Catford CC hill climb) or the Tumble in Wales (used in the Tour of Britain) and the books are a great read if you are into hill climbs.

Of course, if you are into hill climbs chances are you will want to ride them and that is the whole point of the books, handy little guides to each hill and perfect for a spot of ride planning.

My own spot of planning resulted in a ride a teeny bit bigger than intended. This accidental epic-ness amused my friends at Morvélo no end, so much so that it’s been made into a Hollywood blockbuster.

The film is part of a trilogy of epic and there’s a bit more about what inspired the ride and the rides of my friends Jo and Oli on the Morvélo site.

http://www.morvelo.com/doorstep-epic/

The climbs (in ride order) on the route are:

  1. Steyning Bostal
  2. Barhatch Lane
  3. Combe Lane
  4. Coldharbour Lane
  5. Leith Hill
  6. Whitedown Lane
  7. Boxhill
  8. Chalkpit Lane
  9. White lane
  10. Toys hill
  11. York’s hill
  12. Ashdown Forest
  13. Kidd’s hill (The Wall)
  14. Ditchling Beacon

You can see the dot-to-dot joined up route below:

http://www.strava.com/activities/100-climbs-doorstep-epic-320515704